Managing Grief and Life Commitments: Balancing Healing with Responsibilities

The death of a loved one brings profound grief that can make carrying on with daily responsibilities feel impossible.
By illume Editorial Team
Last updated: Jul 26, 2023
10 min read
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During the grieving process, simply getting out of bed, going to work, caring for your family and more may require immense strength. Understand that you can cope with grief while also managing life commitments, with time and support.

What is Grief?

Grief is a natural emotional response to the loss of a loved one. It is the intense pain of bereavement that arises after a death when you are missing the person who died. Grief affects both your heart and your head.

The grieving process looks different for everyone, but common experiences after the death of a loved one include:

  • Deep sadness, loneliness or longing
  • Anxiety, guilt or regret
  • Anger, bitterness or frustration
  • Shock, denial or disbelief
  • Exhaustion and loss of motivation

These painful feelings typically occur in waves that slowly lessen in intensity over the course of weeks or months. Grief brings rollercoaster emotions, but it is an important part of healing.

Coping with Grief While Managing Regular Life

When you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, merely getting through your to-do list each day can feel impossible. You may be emotionally exhausted, unable to focus and unmotivated. Here are tips for managing grief while still tackling your daily commitments:

Communicate About Your Loss – Tell close family members and friends about the death of your loved one so they understand if you need to take time off or work commitments slide for a bit. Most will express sympathy for your loss and offer their support.

Take Initial Bereavement Leave – If possible, consider taking funeral leave, bereavement leave or a leave of absence in the early days after the death of a loved one. Pushing through work responsibilities right away can inhibit emotional healing.

Set Manageable Goals – Break large tasks down into smaller, specific steps you can tackle one at a time. Celebrate even small progress. Be patient with yourself and your grief process.

Ask Family and Friends for Help – Don’t try to cope with loss all alone. Delegate tasks at home and work to others. Let family members, friends or neighbors cook meals or help around the house during this time.

Connect with Fellow Grievers – Joining a grief support group can help you share stories and express your feelings with others also coping with loss. Mental health professionals can also help you process emotions.

Make Time for Self-Care – Even when energy is low, simple self-care like taking a walk, keeping a journal, relaxing with music or spending time with supportive friends can lift your mood. Start small.

Establish a Routine – Having structure and a daily routine supports healing. Try to wake up, eat meals, bathe and go to bed around the same times each day, even when motivation is low.

Focus on Top Priorities – Determine your most important commitments for now, such as your health, caring for family, and critical work projects. Other less vital tasks can wait if needed.

Watch for Complicated Grief – If intense grief becomes extremely debilitating for an extended time, contact your doctor. You may need medication or therapy for depression.

Honoring Your Deceased Loved One

An important part of grieving the loss of a loved one while still engaging in life commitments is finding meaningful ways to honor the person who died, like:

  • Creating a memory book, photo album or tribute video
  • Starting a scholarship fund or donating to a cause they cared about
  • Volunteering for an organization or charity they passionately supported
  • Completing a goal, project or activity you had discussed doing together
  • Regularly practicing a hobby, sport or interest you shared

Staying involved in commitments both for your own well-being and to honor your deceased loved one can bring comfort and aid the grieving process. With time and self-compassion, you can slowly heal.

Find Grief Support with Grief Works by Illume

Getting support when grieving is essential. It can be challenging, but you don’t have to worry!

The Grief Works app helps you overcome grief and connect with a community that cares for you. It also offers live monthly calls and the ability to chat with a therapist when needed.

Moreover, it has a built-in journal book for your daily diary and the Grief Works Curriculum to guide you in your healing journey.